BATHGATE boss Derek Strickland is enjoying the challenge of trying to get the former Junior Cup winners back into the Super League on a shoestring budget.
Ballingry are strong favourites for the Premier Division title thanks to Dave Baikie being able to splash the cash at the ambitious Fife club, but Bathgate are one of the teams in the running to claim the three other spots up for grabs in the top flight next season through an East Region re-structuring.
“Ballingry are definitely going to be one of the four and we’d all like to have the money they’ve had to spend on players,” said Strickland. “Bathgate used to be in that position, but they are not there now so you’ve just got to get on with things.”
Strickland has brought in ten new players since his summer appointment at Creamery Park, and the new-look side are unbeaten in six league games ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Newtongrange.
“We’ve not got as many points on the board as we’d like, but we are doing fine,” added the former Hearts player. “There has been a massive change of personnel here and it takes time for new players to settle in but the good thing is that everyone is buying into what we are trying to do. I’m sure we are going to have a blip at some point but the important thing is how the players react to that.”
Whereas Bathgate’s side consists mainly of youngsters, Newtongrange are heading for Creamery Park with a team packed with experience.
“It will be a difficult game for us as Newtongrange have always had decent teams and it’s no different at the moment under Alan Miller,” said Strickland, “but the great thing about our boys is that there is no such thing as a fear factor.”
If it hadn’t been for the Super League being extended next season, it might have taken Strickland a year or two to get Bathgate back where, in truth, they belong, but, with those four spots on offer at the end of the current campaign, promotion is definitely the target this term.
“The fact there are four spots up for grabs has definitely give clubs a bit more breathing space this season,” he added.